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Ford Sparks Catty Nerd Debate On Reddit With Pi Day Promtion

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March 16th, 2012

Pi Day, aka March 14, is already a pretty nerdy day. Thanks to Ford Motor Company and Reddit, this year it was even nerdier.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, pi is that magical number that helps you figure out the circumference or diameter of a circle.

Specifically, it is an infinite decimal that is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Because it is an infinite decimal, it’s usually shortened to 3.14.

Since March is the third month of the year, March 14—3/14—is Pi Day.

Cute, right?

Anyway, this past Wednesday, the Ford Motor Company ran a promotion on link-sharing site Reddit. Every 3 minutes and 14 seconds, engineers working on the Ford Fusion posted math problems for Reddit users to solve. The first person to respond with the correct answer to each problem received membership in Reddit Gold.

So what does Reddit Gold give you? It lets you see more comments at one time without having to click “view more comments.” It lets you turn off sidebar advertisements and sponsored links. And it puts a pretty trophy on your user page.

Pretty exciting stuff, I know. That’s why it normally costs $3.99 a month. So with those kinds of rewards at stake, it’s no wonder why Reddit nerds went nuts. They didn’t just answer each of the 42 math problems posted. They debated them and critiqued the answers given, whether it was a simple problem with a simple solution or a complex problem with a complex solution.

Take the first question, for example:

“The Ford Fusion contains approximately 300 lb of plastics in interior, exterior, and various other applications. If the overall vehicle weight is 3300 lb, what percentage of the vehicle is made from plastic?”

If you’re just interested in winning the contest, you simply plus “300 ÷ 3300” into your calculator, then type the result into Reddit.

But if you’re a math god trying to become King of the Nerds, you don’t just answer the question. Oh no. You look for any possible flaw or sign of weakness, and you pounce.

For example, user orangutangston, while using his index finger to push his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose, asked “Shouldn't you specify whether you want the weight percentage of plastic? Because the volume percentage of plastic I would assume would be much higher due to the lower relative density.”

I mean, sure, it’s fairly obvious that they mean weight, since that’s all they mention in the problem. But if orangutangston doesn’t ask the question, how else will we all know how smart he is?

Or consider the response of user rhlewis to one person’s answer of 9.1%. He or she says, “Is this supposed to be a joke? Why award someone who rounded it off to 1 decimal point? The earlier answers are much better.”

You see, rhlewis correctly realized that the whole point of the contest was to be a bunch of pricks. Good going, rhlewis.

[Reddit via CBS News]

I am a freelance writer specializing in sports, humor, politics, technology, and, from time to time, pop culture. Also, Esteban is not my real name, but I wish was.
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